How to Escape from the Prison of Independence

“If I want something done right, I have to do it myself.”

How often do you feel like this? How deep is the frustration that drives you to this point? You might be a manager, or a team member, or a client; all roles where you depend on results from others to do your job properly.

Your direct reports, other team members or service providers are unable to see what you see. From your lens it is so easy, yet those you work with are unable to see things the way you do or get things done with the ease you do! We have all been in this place.

Rather than taking 10 minutes to share your knowledge with a colleague so you can help not only now but in the future, you would much rather spend the minute or two it would take to do it yourself. You want to be in control. You want to get the task done quickly. You may even be reluctant to share your expertise for fear you may be giving away your competitive advantage come promotion or bonus time.

Being the expert, you feel, gives you a sense of power or status.

What we are describing above is one of the four places we as human beings can be operating from on the Strategic Interdependence Model®.

Source and copyright: People Acuity


In fact, it is the one most of us operate from most often. We call this place ‘Independence’. The theme here is control. The mindset is “I serve me”. The persona we see here is the ‘Hero’.

Heroes’ minds most likely won’t quiet down, they have confidence in themselves but not in others, and they are not prepared to be vulnerable. They indulge in excessive multi-tasking and always have to be the “expert”. In this mode they talk down at others, don’t listen, and find their own answers for why something is happening or what the solution should be. What do they get from all of this? Short-term bursts of energy and/or performance, with eventual burn-out, negative impact on others and unfulfilled relationships.

People are fundamentally wired to play in a team – but in the absence of real, authentic, trusting relationships, Heroes prefer to do it themselves. They cannot see through the fog of their “me-focused” toxic lens. Heroes believe that they can do it on their own, and, in fact, it’s the right thing to do. That way they can meet their own needs. However, while it can feel good in the short term, over time, it becomes very lonely and overwhelming. At Independence, Heroes find themselves isolated and they get worse results than what they expected in the first place.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. If you are caught up on the receiving end of independence, or if you realize now you’re operating from independence, you can change this. Our colleagues at People Acuity™ have found through extensive research and experience that synergy, also known as Interdependence, is achievable through a process of gaining confidence through effective strengths application and embracing weaknesses, thereby creating the space and vulnerability for complementary collaboration.

What if you operated most often from interdependence? What if we lived in a world where most people operated from interdependence instead of independence? What would be different for your results and relationships?


To learn more about Independence, the Hero and the Strategic Interdependence Model, we invite you to download the Dealing With People Who Drive You Crazy eBook. We also encourage you to explore the online 15-minute mini-courses to deepen your understanding of the concepts you have learned (use our discount code – HCBSdiscount).


About the authors:

Tinus van der Merwe is a Strategic Strengths Certified Coach, Certified Strengths Strategies for Optimal Performance (SSOP) Facilitator and a co-thought leader at People Acuity. He has an infectious passion for coaching and abundance of care for his clients. He has completed over 13,000 hours of coaching and

facilitating solutions (over 1,200 hours of coaching alone) with clients from a wide variety of cultures and countries, from Specialists to Top Executives.

Brian Kelly is a co-thought leader, Faculty Coach, Strengths Strategy Certified Coach and Certified Strengths Strategies for Optimal Performance (SSOP) Facilitator at People Acuity, a Strengths Strategy Company. Brian is a strengths-centered human development thought-leader and strategist committed to developing our current and next generation of leaders and bringing greater inclusion and diversity to the board room and the workplace. Brian works with individuals and teams to effectively apply their unique strengths to improve their results and relationships, so they may interdependently thrive.



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